Machiavelli and Aristotle’s attitudes regarding political ideas have persisted to the present day. Both provide diametrically opposed perspectives of political life in different notions. Machiavelli, in particular, expressed concern about the viability of utopian regimes in his famous aphorism the end justifies the means, which has long been a source of contention. At the same time, Plato’s concept of success verification has indeed been applauded by various scholars. Furthermore, the two renowned idealists took incongruent opinions in expressing political notions through idealism based on Machiavelli and realism in accordance with Aristotle. Overall, the outcome in pursuit of an idea without creating reliable means is meaningless; hence, individuals are more capable of regulating and experimenting with strategies than models to achieve justified unprecedented results.
Notably, the two renowned philosophers took diverse paths in political knowledge; for instance, Machiavelli’s and Aristotle’s viewpoints on leadership are compared and contrasted. The two political scientists champion a combined state as the ideal government. According to Aristotle, the government structure, as defined by Federalist System, is the perfect state because it is based on the middle class, is free of faction, and is stable. In particular, in the Politics, he underscored that, “besides, a constitution based on the middle classes is closer to a democracy than to an oligarchy,
and it is the most secure constitution of this kind” (Aristotle 86). By contrast, Machiavelli views the optimal situation as a republic modeled after the Roman Empire. Both states have a citizenry competent of enormous successes in poetry, law, science, arts, and political participation. For example, “if one studies the first destruction of the Roman Empire, one discovers it came about as a result of the first recruitment of Gothic soldiers” (Machiavelli 45). In those remarks, the idea is Machiavellian acknowledged that empires are built in accordance with art and a form stemming from its citizens supported by a ruthless leader.
Machiavelli’s and Aristotle’s views on right and wrong kinds of government were quite polarizing. As a consequence, it breeds the discrepancy in disagreements pertaining to morality and ethics is not as straightforward as one would seem. In this way, Machiavelli claimed that a terrible state was one in which the leader lacked total authority, and although he gave instances and suggestions on how to manage various types of governments, this fundamental truth trumped all else (20). On the same note, Aristotle classified the six basic types of governance in the Politics and contrasted them in pairs based on their similarities – oligarchy vs. aristocracy, tyranny vs. monarchy, and democracy vs. polity (195). The first contrast was between a dictator and a king, and Aristotle concluded that the dictator was worse since a monarch, in principle, devoted care to his people.
These ideal states, nevertheless, vary in their configuration and objectives. Aristotle’s polity is enshrined in the constitutional government characterized by a combination of oligarchy and democracy, a state led by both the rich and the poor for the common good. In comparison, Machiavelli constitutes components of the principality in the consuls, aristocracy, and democracy in the tribunes. For instance, he states that “those who, having started as private individuals, become rulers merely out of good luck acquire power with little trouble but have a hard time holding on to it” (Aristotle 21). Hence, from the quote, it was evident that Machiavelli’s ideal state contains elements while Aristotle’s political structure suggests monarchy is not. Therefore, by contrast, Machiavelli believes that the perfect state exists to elevate man to his full potential.
Furthermore, Aristotle accentuates that family and state humankind dwell in groups in the form of a neighborhood, implying advancement compared to animals. Thus, their unique capacity for a rational conversation breeds a reasoned discourse for elucidating what is beneficial or detrimental and what is right or unjust. Moreover, Aristotle claims that the fundamental characteristic of human beings is that the function of man is a spiritual action that follows or suggests a logical premise. Additionally, the Aristotelian notion perceives man as a political animal. In his regard, he accentuates that humanity refers to an animal that is predisposed to dynamic social formation due to its genetic makeup. Additionally, he believes that human beings are more intrinsically civilized than animals.
However, the virtue of egocentrism has manifested in humans regarding Machiavellian political stand. He believes that humankind is naturally egocentric and only looks out for their interests. In regards to The Prince, humans act selfishly. For example, Machiavelli postulates that “a legislator should use care and skill to ensure that a successor does not inherit the power he has seized. Since men are more inclined to do evil than good, their successor is likely to use the power he has been using for the public good” (Machiavelli 108). From the phrase, it is evident that humankind is postulated as self-centered since they are hell-bent on the satisfaction of their requirements. As a result, people are often in a competitive state. Further, Machiavelli’s political thought and actions are all predicated on the idea that men are inherently self-centered and evil. In addition, to a certain degree, individual interest is the most significant value in the society in which he lived. Everything else is unimportant compared to his strong individualism. Furthermore, Machiavelli believes that men’s desire for power and property is limitless, even though all-natural constraints constrain natural energy and property.
Additionally, in terms of the concept between aristocracy and oligarchy, Aristotle considered oligarchy to be a despicable type of governance since an oligarchy’s primary objective is to amass power and wealth. Aristotle made a comparison between polity and democracy, concluding that democracy was the worse since it would allow the impoverished and the masses to run rampant over the rest of society. Aristotle believed that polity was the ideal form of governance because it maintained a balance of power between the poor, the middle class, and the affluent.
Moreover, Aristotle feels education is a vital task of the city since individuals cannot contemplate what justice, morality, goodness, and evil are without it. As a result, the leader must embody these values and motivate others to do the same. In this manner, virtues play a critical role in education, ensuring that everyone knows their role in the city (Aristotle 169). Individuals must first be instructed on overcoming their fears and defending the city’s boundaries with the help of a republican army. While auxiliaries have different responsibilities than guardians, lower-class workers are subject to their whims.
However, Machiavelli did not focus on how to educate people to construct competent institutions or respect rights and freedoms when it came to education. Technical ability is essential to ensure effective fulfillment of related responsibilities, and guardians should be taught to avoid war via fitness exercise and song; consequently, nothing about this sort is of concern (Machiavelli 94). Machiavelli’s approach was fully centered on the prince’s power, who should develop the ability to employ both love and force when necessary. Even though a result of this secular politics, certain groups are susceptible to receiving moral or spiritual training, as this is not the objective of their guide. Due to the fact that people are driven to break the law, the city most likely lacks a strong sense of justice since the prince does not believe in moral equality and only employs it when necessary. To develop fairness, the prince must feel in and value ultimate truth; otherwise, ethics would erode to the point where justice will perish.
In The Princes, Machiavelli believes that one must adapt to new situations. When discussing how to steer away from distaste and disdain, he separates the conditions into four categories. The categories in question correlated the extent of power owned by a population or the military depending on the presence of inherited power and the extent of it (Machiavelli 126). In this regard, people respond to the circumstances in which they find themselves rather than to some internal state that they are experiencing. Still, he is always mindful to avoid generalized statements, and thence, he preferred alternative methods and the effects of such circumstances. Despite this, the Aristotelian conception of moral character is diametrically contradictory to Machiavelli’s idea of those who hold to a momentary virtue of accepted values in a state. It exacerbated that profound morality is dependent on the context they are applied in. Moreover, Aristotle underscores the perception that people’s behaviors are not entirely random; rather, people must participate in ethical activities and resolve ethical dilemmas in order to develop virtues and the related qualities. As a result, he argues that people’s upstanding character, rather than external circumstances constantly changing, influences their conduct.
Nonetheless, the two great minds have a similar ground in that Machiavelli was strongly influenced by Aristotle, notably in his conceptual ideas, which he developed. The first thing to notice about their methods is that they are scientific and are based on deductive reasoning. The first and most important point to note is that Machiavelli agrees on a few objectives worth studying further: national independence, security, and a well-ordered constitutional structure. The two things, a genuine admiration for ability and a national longing for Italian unity, were coexistent in the specified context, as the encouragement to unite Italy eventually indicated.
Furthermore, Aristotle and Machiavelli agreed on a few concepts. The philosophers acknowledged that they both believe there are three basic types of good governments. Each of these types of good governments has the potential to deteriorate into a similar kind of corrupt governance. Machiavelli advocates rulers that put their people first and uphold the rule of law. However, the philosopher Aristotle agreed with a familiar notion since he felt that a ruler’s first and most tremendous responsibility was to serve his people and maintain their variety for the common good.
The disparity between Aristotle and Machiavelli on the aims is also derived from the fact that Machiavelli’s signifiers pave the path for the eventual destination, with this being foreseeably disastrous. The specified approach allowed Machiavelli to prioritize procedural fairness in government as a component of greater significance compared to substantive justice. Consequently, Machiavelli distanced the notion of politics from the one of ethics. Modern politics is thrown off course by this moral apathy and becomes petty. He stated that they gathered together to make laws and lay down punishments for those who violated them (Machiavelli 205). The need of reclaiming the metaphysical component of morality in political discourse to achieve equality is emphasized in this viewpoint
However, the sole idea of virtue may offer republican genuine fairness and procedural justice, and it can also give the capacity to protect people’s liberties against governmental interference, according to Aristotle. According to Machiavelli’s political philosophy, Aristotle’s political ideology falls midway between the best and most practical options (Machiavelli 87). Although Aristotelian political philosophy establishes ethical goals as the primary goals of the city-state, he also thinks that the perfect must be implemented in reality for it to be regarded as authentic. According to him, mending the rift between reality and its idealized image is essential to the discovery of a political philosophy that can guide the Greeks in their desire for freedom.
The Prince is undoubtedly the most anti-democratic work ever written. Contrary to common assumption, Machiavelli was also a brilliant thinker of civic patriotism, political identity, and famous freedoms and a great political strategist and strategist. By delving into the nature of political interactions as understood by Niccol Machiavelli, it becomes apparent that he proposed a relatively unique approach to the way democratic politics may be conceptualized. He argues that the fundamental core of politics does not lay in a universal value system but rather in the constitutive function created due to the political conflict (Machiavelli 89). A key goal of democratic politics, according to Machiavellian theory, the fundamental is to create an environment in which rival hegemonies can arise via political strife and conflict. The favored Machiavellian side is manifested in The Prince on Livy. Rather than functioning as a counselor to the Prince, he sets out the military and political order that he believes a self-governing and free republic should display in its military and political order.
Based on his firsthand knowledge of events, Machiavelli’s political philosophy is concerned with laying out the signifiers that correspond to the desired outcomes that have been specified. In this sense, a fundamental struggle lies beneath the contrast between Aristotle’s and Machiavelli’s theories of human nature: the battle for human dignity. In particular, Machiavelli feels that humankind should be more concerned with the significance than the goals since pursuing a political objective via techniques doomed to failure is pointless. If a plan is considered exceptionally excellent, people should choose appropriate indicators for achieving the purpose in question. In this way, the question of indication may also be studied in a strictly scientific approach, with no concern for the goodness or badness of the aims in consideration (Machiavelli 25). Although Machiavelli acknowledged violence and severity, as seen in Duke’s case, he praised him unreservedly. Hence, the assumption is that Machiavelli’s adored Dukes’ dogmatic regime compared to his predecessor Caesar Borgia.
Furthermore, the stories of Agathocles illustrate Machiavelli’s admiration for highly skillful methods of getting energy. He views their conduct as horrible crimes against humanity (Machiavelli 30). However, as long as the end objective is legitimate, Machiavelli argues that whatever means required to attain the goal should be used to do it. Furthermore, whatever methods are necessary to achieve the aim must be reasonable in their application. He offers reassuring words regarding political plots and the violence that has occurred. Machiavelli also argues that any tactics necessary to win and keep political power, no matter how harsh, nasty, or brutal, may be used to accomplish this goal (Machiavelli 30). Moreover, he argues that no one thinks the activities of the strict leaders to be dreadful or immoral, and so proves that governance is a kind of art and that to unite Italy, one must rely on one’s strength to meet the problems.
At the same time, Aristotle was considerably more concerned with the goals themselves than how they were achieved. He begins by highlighting the relevance of the city-state as the most acceptable sort of community devoted to the most significant degree of quality, according to his viewpoint. Every form of society and government, according to him, aspires to create something unique. “ Human beings do not commit injustices only to get the necessities, which Phaleas thinks equality of property will cure (in that they will not steal because of cold or hunger); they also commit them to get enjoyment and assuage their desires,” he declares in the Politics (Aristotle 43). In this analogy, he implied that every person is accountable for whatever unfair tactics they use to attain their goals and would be held responsible for their actions in the future.
In addition, it demonstrates the pinnacle of morality and ethical principles. Aristotle says that his conception of pleasure is ultimate and self-satisfying and that it is achieved via the accomplishment of the capacity of action. The greatest and best good, in his regard, is the accomplishment of the most authoritative science or skill, which is statesmanship; yet, the governmental ideal is fairness, and justice is a frequent benefit in democracy (47). Following this, it is clear that Aristotle’s politics for virtue incorporates a wide range of notions and meanings. According to the ethics of politics, for example, politics is the science of obtaining pleasure for the majority, which opposes the violent and immoral rule espoused by Machiavelli. In his philosophy, the scenario in which justice is sought as the only acceptable measure for the success of the government must be the key paradigm.
Aristotle is most concerned when it comes to the sustainability of political philosophy rather than whether or not it is correct. He outlined throughout his political stand the best constitution and the ideal life for the majority of city-states. In his perspective, people and their well-being should be the priority of any state or government, disregarding of the social status of the people in question, their background, or any other characteristics. In other words, the outlined point of view contrasts with Machiavellian ideas of paradise, built for the deemed intellects. Aristotle may be viewed as the founder of reasonable and practical political philosophy when it comes to political philosophy.
Furthermore, comparing and contrasting Aristotle’s and Machiavelli’s perspectives on citizenship might aid in understanding what makes acceptable political objectives. Machiavelli believes that man’s capacity to participate in politics depends on the condition of the society in which he lives. The substance of man’s nature is, for the most part, stable, but humanity is an ungrateful and hungry species. Therefore, under the social circumstances of the republic that humanity can contribute anything positive to political life. Whilst, Aristotle believes that the metropolitan is the most sovereign and inclusive association of humanity and that man naturally belongs in the city. As a result, the purpose of the citizenry of free men is to be involved in the political atmosphere. Aristotelian political philosophy, moreover, holds that people who cannot participate in the advantages of a political union are either gods or animals regarding their niche in society.
On the same note, according to Aristotle, people must be endowed with the qualities of intellectuality and spirituality, which must come first and foremost. Therefore, individuals may better understand legitimate political aims by contrasting and comparing Aristotle’s and Machiavelli’s concepts of the ideal citizen. Similarly, people in Aristotle’s regime and Machiavelli’s republicans are capable of abiding by and supporting law and advocating for legislative reform. They are also capable of engineering, executing incredible artistic feats, and advocating the state’s interests.
According to The Prince, philosophy and education are consequential and do not impact a state. Hence, Aristotle believes that military strength is necessary for the city-state for one to reach the ultimate good, entailing partaking in a good life and the enjoyment of it. For Aristotle, education is more critical than good laws; in his opinion, there is no advantage in the best of laws. Further, he stressed that even if they are sanctioned by general civic consent and the citizens themselves have not been attuned, by the force of habit and the influence of teaching, to the proper constitutional temper (P 4.94). According to Aristotle, there is no advantage in the best of laws, even if they are sanctioned by general civic consent. He perceives that laws result from education, whereas Machiavelli theorized that education is nothing more than a by-product of administration.
The philosopher Aristotle provides a fundamental concept for the maintenance of any government. He said, “For the laws must necessarily be bad or good, and just or unjust, at the same time and in the same way as the constitutions. Still, at least it is evident that the laws must be established to suit the constitution“ (Aristotle 85). He meant that comprehensive guidelines should be outlined and followed accordingly for states to provide a competent government in those remarks. He recommends that the pieces’ strength be measured using two different methods: quality and amount.
Further, Aristotle is virtually reticent; he offers two remarks on the second, contradictory. He further emphasizes that the encroachments of the affluent wreck the constitution more than those of the masses; hence, they should be vigorously scrutinized. For instance, in the Politics, he emphasized, “But if this is so, it is clear that laws that accord with the correct constitutions must be just, and those that accord with the deviant constitutions not just“ (Aristotle 85). In this phrase, it is evident that Aristotle emphasize that a state must adhere to its principalities in order to achieve the ultimate greater good. Similarly, Aristotle expounds on his predicaments that the poor without participation in the honors are not ready to be silent on purpose, thus ensuring they are not deprived of their wealth and left to anguish in atrocities.
At the same time, Machiavelli takes a similar perspective as his acquaintance. He believed they were at odds because the elite did not want to be ordered about or subjugated. According to respective theories, these affirmations are conclusions drawn from, or a combination of, the Aristotelian perspective. On the other hand, Aristotle suggests that one must choose between depending on the poor and being reliant on the affluent, and Machiavelli answers positively.
Nevertheless, in certain circumstances, the two thinkers were ideological rivals; for example, both Machiavellian and Aristotelian notions underscored continual social and political development, which requires a capable leader to initiate a new cycle. According to Aristotle, political organization has just one kind of virtue, namely the correct rule of the philosopher-kings, but an infinite variety of evil. Aristotle’s depiction of inferior forms of government in a chronological sequence begins with the republic and ultimately fades away. According to Machiavelli and Aristotle, a valid rule requires an imaginative individual above the framework he constructs.
In addition, Machiavelli asserts that administration deteriorates with time as it passes between individuals and the masses, eventually surrendering to a more powerful foreign force. Thus, a state descends into chaos; one individual must break the cycle, not via democracy or republic. Machiavelli justifies this requirement by invoking historical precedents, stating that no republic or kingdom is effectively formed or restored except when constructed by a single individual. Aristotle and Machiavelli both place the burden of freedom squarely on the shoulders of a single leader nicknamed the hero. Hence, to promote not their interests but the greater good, the hero-founders must descend in turn and share the cave with others. As a result, their laws are intended to advance the general good of society, not the welfare of any one group. Thus, one of the perceived heroic founders is tasked with the responsibility of rebuilding a stable society from the wreckage of its last degeneration.
Lastly, Machiavelli and Aristotle’s theories conquer in regarding the individual’s liberty. In The Prince, Machiavelli said that if a ruler wishes to retain power, he should refrain from dictating or attempting to mandate what the people may or cannot do. Nonetheless, individuals must consider the divergent objectives of Aristotle and Machiavelli regarding these assertions. Machiavelli makes these statements to retain and safeguard the ruler’s authority, while Aristotle makes similar arguments needed to shield the general welfare. Both scholars were realists, which means they viewed the world as it actually was and treated it accordingly.
Ultimately, both Machiavelli and Aristotle have had a significant impact on contemporary political-ideological conceptions, particularly concerning the concepts that constitute both the state and democratic republic. Machiavelli and Aristotle have made tremendous contributions to the development of contemporary political thought as we know it, and they have done it on their manner. The conclusion drawn from studying both is that Aristotle is taking a more ideological approach to the notion of functioning politics after finishing their respective studies, while Machiavelli is looking for a practical sort of politics. However, their theories must be analyzed by individuals who aspire to put them into practice since they are products of ancient eras, thus avoiding mistakes and criticism from the current society. Hence, applying the theories in a real-time situation calls for rigorous scrutiny of the context of each of their notions.
Machiavelli, N., & Wootton, D. (1994). Selected Political Writings. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub. Co. Web.
Aristotle. (1998). Politics. C.D.C. Aristotle (trans.). Hackett.